PARIS — Airbus Helicopters has reported a fall in 2017 deliveries, to 409 helicopters from 418 units shipped in the previous year, reflecting weakness in the civil oil and gas industry.
The softening of the global helicopter market was reflected in new orders, slipping to 335 units from 353 a year ago.
The total order book stood at 692 helicopters at the end of 2017.
The company is flight-testing the H160, a civil helicopter being studied for military missions for the French forces.
“Last year saw major progress being made on new products including the H160 — the first of the ‘H Generation’ — with three prototypes now in flight testing ahead of certification in 2019,” the company said in a statement.
A firing campaign with a number of weapons was conducted on the H145M, the company said. The helicopter will be fitted with “improved and modular military capabilities by the end of 2018.”
That light helicopter is an armed version of the UH-72A Lakota, of which 400 were delivered to the U.S. Army.
Last year saw a first phase completed in seeking to become “stronger and leaner in a challenging market environment,” the company said. This year will see a second step with an “increased digitalization of our products, services and operations — for the benefit of our customers and the safety of our fleet.”
France last year picked the H160 for detailed military study, with a program due to launch next year to equip the Air Force, Army and Fleet Air Arm. An order of 160 to 190 units is expected.
Airbus Helicopters CEO Guillaume Faury is due to leave the rotorcraft division to take up the post of head of the Airbus commercial jetliner business based in Toulouse, southwestern France.